God Counts Those Men Discount

August 20, 2017

Pastor Mark Bradshaw


“It is not fair to take from the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”


I think we can safely assume that our Lord is tired.

John had lost his head, and now Jesus has lost his cool.

And who can blame him, everytime he tries to get away for some quiet someone sees him, and before long there is a crowd pressing in.


The people are desperate and in need and Jesus is full of compassion and God has made it evident that through Jesus healing flows. Then one day Jesus decides he needs to get up and go, head to the coast and outside of the borders of Israel where he can enjoy that sweet Mediterranean breeze, put his feet in the sand and watch the sunset. Perhaps Jesus was feeling overwhelmed, weary under the weight of it all. The more people he healed the more aware he became of how many were still in need. For every lost sheep that our Good Shepherd carried back into the fold there seemed to be two new wolves, ready to devour. And so Jesus, feeling hemmed in, goes on a retreat. Jesus decides to practice a little self care, hoping for a certain level of anonymity. Yet, and notice this, whereas Jesus was seeking to find refreshment and renewal outside of his borders geographically, God sends someone to Jesus who is outside of his ethnic and social borders in order to get him back on track. To put it bluntly, God sends his Son a woman to set him straight… to expand his borders… to increase his imagination… to broaden his perspective.


In the television industry, it really has become a type of art to recap the previous episodes of a season, often in only 1-2 minutes, as a means of bringing the viewer up to speed. The current episode plays a specific role within the overall story and the reason for the opening recap is to refresh the audience’s memory as to how it relates to a few specific strands within the overall story line.  


Now, at first glance it is surprising that this morning’s Gospel made it past the final edits. Any of you wish this was a deleted scene, clearly out of character for Jesus?  And yet, as we may be standing here scratching our heads the observant disciple will discover that there is a trail of breadcrumbs that has been left for us to follow.


So here it is, our opening recap:

Jesus appointed how many disciples?

The women with the bleeding infirmary, who reached out and touched the hems of Jesus’ robe and was healed – how many years had she been sick?

That happened while Jesus was on his way to heal a young girl who was how many years old?

Okay, are you picking up what Matthew is shoveling? So, why 12?

  • 12 tribes of Israel.

So, in our Gospel this morning we heard Jesus’ words, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”


And right after Jesus learns of John’s death he goes away to try and be alone and the crowds follow, he teaches them and then does not want to send them away hungry. With five loaves and two fishes how many people are fed? And here is the bonus question – how many basketfuls are left over?

Are we getting the point yet with 12?


Now, perhaps it is not too much of a stretch to think of the 12 basketfuls of broken pieces as the crumbs that were leftover, one for each tribe. I am picking up on a theme of abundance.


Okay, one last theme in our episode intro, this would have been our Gospel reading from last week – and I don’t know about you but I was more than happy to have Abbey veer off from the lectionary and give us her message! Yet, in the story of Jesus walking on water, summoning Peter to come and walk with him, I would have the cameras zoom in on Peter sinking as Jesus extends a hand and says, my paraphrase, “Man, you have such little faith!”


Okay, who is still with me? Did I lose anyone?


Jesus sets off for the coast, outside of Israel, he is tired and I imagine the Pharisees have really gotten under his skin, and then she shows up. A Canaanite, that godless group of people who inhabited the land before Israel came in and conquered it. A Canaanite woman, nonetheless, and she is desperate. Her daughter is tormented by a demon and she begins crying out for Jesus’ attention. “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. Jesus just ignores her. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”  Lord, just send her away.


Last week Abbey shared with us a profound poem by the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray. Much of what I am about to share I gleaned from an article in the New Yorker written in April of this year. Pauli Murray, born in 1910, was ahead of her time. She sat in the wrong seat on the bus, participated in nonviolent demonstrations, and advocated for the equal treatment of all persons several decades before the civil rights movement. She began her life as an orphan and culminated it by becoming the first African American woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest. In high school, she was the only black among 4,000 students. She applied to the University of North Carolina and was denied admission because she had the wrong color of skin. Later she was denied admission to Harvard Law because she had the wrong gender.


While studying at Howard University Pauli was no longer excluded for the color of her skin but rather due to the fact that she had the unfortunate condition of being born a woman. She was the only woman among faculty and students and on the first day of class her professor was all too eager to humiliate her by remarking that he could think of no reason why a woman would desire to attend Law school. Thus, not only did Pauli resolve to become the top student in her class, which she was, but she also grew in her determination to end what she termed Jane Crow.


While at Howard a class discussion arose on how to best end Jim Crow. Plessy vs. Ferguson, the case that upheld segregation, used the phrase “separate but equal.” The class conversation was focused on the term “equal” and the men scoffed when Pauli dared to question the term “separate.” She proceeded to bet her professor $10 that within 25 years Plessy vs. Ferguson would be overturned, Pauli was right. But her law-school professor, Spottswood Robinson, would come to owe Pauli much more than $10. Pauli would go on to argue in her final law school paper that segregation violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Years later Spottswood Robinson remembered Pauli’s paper and presented it to Thurgood Marshall and the remainder of his colleagues, the same group who successfully argued Brown vs. the Board of Education.  


Now, I would like to propose that Spottswood Robinson and Jesus of Nazareth both share something revolutionary in common. It is not that they both devoted themselves to the cause of justice, nor that they both were committed to advocating for those who society had discounted. Rather, what was revolutionary about these men, and worthy of emulation, is that they both were willing to eat crow. They both were willing to not only admit, but seemingly revel in the fact that a woman had set them straight.


Stepping back into our Gospel, up until this point we have grown accustomed to Jesus being the one who stumps the religious leaders, but in our Gospel this morning it this unnamed Canaanite woman who stumps Jesus. “It is not fair to take from the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” “Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table.” She does not play the victim, she does not need to make Jesus into the villain. Rather, she takes what Jesus gives her and uses it to stump him. She gets creative.  – Jesus, isn’t it God’s table, and isn’t God a God of abundance? Jesus, your reference point is this group of children and you are wondering if there is going to be enough for them. My reference point is the merciful God who created us all, and all I need is a crumb from God’s table and my daughter will be made well. Jesus, isn’t your God bigger than that? And, move over Peter, Jesus looks at this woman and says, “Wow, how great is your faith.”


Back in that classroom at Howard University, as those young black men were debating what it means to be treated as equals, the one thing seemingly all men in power held in common, black and white, was that women were not equals. And if it has become hauntingly clear in the recent weeks that we have so much more to overcome for racial equality, let us equally remember how much more we must overcome for gender equality.


And just how many people were fed? Was it 5,000? Matthew makes a point of saying “5,000 besides women and children.” So, who was it that decided the women and the children did not count? If 15-20,000 children of God ate and were filled on that afternoon, who decided it was only the men who count? It wasn’t God.


God counts those the world counts out.

God counts those who men discount.

We can count on that.


COVID is finally over, right?

Posted by on 9:53 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on COVID is finally over, right?

Not yet. Worldwide, new cases are climbing. The total number of new cases per day is higher than at any point in the pandemic.

In the US, cases have dropped a bit over the last two months. Most sources cite the early abandonment of masks and social distancing as the reason vaccinations haven’t made more of an impact on cutting our new cases per day, prompting Republicans and Democrats alike to join the push to smarter social practices for disease intervention.

India’s cases are horrifying. With more than 300,000 new cases PER DAY for each of the last 10 days, the trend is still increasing – there is no peak yet.

We thank god for those countries below which are seeing new cases, and deaths decrease. We continue to ask for God to bless us with a knowledge of His will, deliverance from this pestilence on a global skill, and an opportunity to love our neighbors in need of our most powerful gift – prayer.

LocationTotal casesNew cases (1 day*)New cases (last 60 days)Cases per 1M peopleDeaths
Worldwide151,517,785No data60-day trend chart19,4863,182,915
United States32,523,80751,02960-day trend chart98,690581,523
India19,164,969No data60-day trend chart14,086211,853
Brazil14,665,96268,33360-day trend chart69,396404,287
France5,616,68924,29960-day trend chart83,736104,514
Turkey4,820,59131,89160-day trend chart57,97140,131
Russia4,814,5589,27060-day trend chart32,809110,520
United Kingdom4,418,5301,90760-day trend chart66,509127,524
Italy4,035,61712,96460-day trend chart66,989121,033
Spain3,524,077No data60-day trend chart74,82178,216
Germany3,400,53218,93560-day trend chart40,89783,082
Argentina2,977,30022,42060-day trend chart66,25263,865
Colombia2,859,72417,79060-day trend chart57,89473,720
Poland2,792,1426,78960-day trend chart72,75267,502
Iran2,516,157No data60-day trend chart30,19572,090
Mexico2,344,7553,82160-day trend chart18,524216,907
Ukraine2,124,07010,19060-day trend chart50,71845,923
Peru1,799,44516,10660-day trend chart56,00361,477
Indonesia1,672,8804,51260-day trend chart6,26845,652
Czechia1,632,9322,15260-day trend chart152,69729,316
South Africa1,581,2101,67460-day trend chart26,90354,350
Netherlands1,496,3527,75860-day trend chart85,74617,148
Canada1,223,9038,34860-day trend chart32,22624,255
Chile1,198,2457,25460-day trend chart62,71226,353
Iraq1,070,366No data60-day trend chart27,35615,498
Romania1,056,5721,30760-day trend chart54,44828,194
Philippines1,037,4608,72260-day trend chart9,56317,234
Belgium990,2293,60760-day trend chart85,92424,230
Sweden973,6045,92660-day trend chart94,21914,048
Israel838,4814860-day trend chart91,3386,363
Portugal836,49346060-day trend chart81,39816,974
Pakistan825,5194,69660-day trend chart3,76717,957
Hungary779,3482,36560-day trend chart79,74727,540
Bangladesh760,5841,45260-day trend chart4,51711,510
Jordan712,077No data60-day trend chart66,8658,871
Serbia690,9311,37460-day trend chart99,2186,386
Switzerland659,974No data60-day trend chart76,86110,027
Austria618,8702,13160-day trend chart69,51610,205
Japan593,2644,68460-day trend chart4,71010,199
Lebanon526,578No data60-day trend chart77,1497,278
United Arab Emirates521,9481,71260-day trend chart52,7731,591
Morocco511,24936360-day trend chart14,2589,023
Saudi Arabia418,411No data60-day trend chart12,2286,968
Malaysia408,7133,78860-day trend chart12,4841,506
Bulgaria404,38065260-day trend chart57,76816,399
Slovakia382,21146760-day trend chart70,04911,684
Ecuador381,8621,17360-day trend chart21,87518,631
Panama364,57635860-day trend chart86,4176,232
Belarus359,9821,24460-day trend chart38,2412,552
Greece345,033No data60-day trend chart32,17210,381
Croatia332,1832,00760-day trend chart81,4927,081
Nepal323,1875,65760-day trend chart10,7743,279
Kazakhstan322,695No data60-day trend chart17,2803,699
Azerbaijan320,322No data60-day trend chart31,8194,538
Georgia310,3101,47660-day trend chart83,3394,110
Tunisia309,1191,90460-day trend chart26,37110,722
Bolivia305,5941,90160-day trend chart26,64312,975
Palestine296,462No data60-day trend chart59,5703,249
Paraguay279,0772,21260-day trend chart39,0176,385
Kuwait273,9911,42960-day trend chart61,9871,563
Dominican Republic266,56134760-day trend chart25,7343,480
Ethiopia257,4421,02460-day trend chart2,6093,688
Costa Rica250,9912,60960-day trend chart49,6233,231
Moldova250,83732960-day trend chart93,5355,812
Denmark250,554060-day trend chart43,0302,483
Ireland248,87054460-day trend chart50,5684,903
Lithuania248,6551,38660-day trend chart89,0133,937
Slovenia241,3091,01760-day trend chart115,2354,258
Guatemala227,671No data60-day trend chart13,7127,524
Egypt227,5521,02160-day trend chart2,27113,339
Armenia216,596No data60-day trend chart73,2364,128
Honduras212,3331,25760-day trend chart23,1855,281
Qatar206,30265060-day trend chart75,093465
Bosnia and Herzegovina198,46159560-day trend chart60,1218,551
Uruguay198,4282,69460-day trend chart56,3952,616
Venezuela197,6831,29760-day trend chart6,1362,136
Oman193,253No data60-day trend chart41,4282,010
Libya177,508No data60-day trend chart25,8333,029
Bahrain176,934No data60-day trend chart114,647648
Nigeria165,1105560-day trend chart8012,063
Kenya160,05373560-day trend chart3,3652,744
North Macedonia152,36736560-day trend chart73,3554,855
Myanmar (Burma)142,8171760-day trend chart2,6283,209
Albania131,08510860-day trend chart46,0602,394
South Korea122,63462760-day trend chart2,3681,831
Estonia122,45043160-day trend chart92,1811,166
Algeria122,10824260-day trend chart2,8403,253
Latvia119,370No data60-day trend chart62,6022,139
Norway112,97042960-day trend chart21,047756
Sri Lanka108,1461,53160-day trend chart4,960678
Kosovo105,188No data60-day trend chart58,5792,173
Montenegro97,38913260-day trend chart156,4841,495
Kyrgyzstan95,27533160-day trend chart14,5831,604
Ghana92,546No data60-day trend chart3,056779
Zambia91,6708460-day trend chart5,1251,251
Uzbekistan90,808No data60-day trend chart2,663649
China (Mainland)90,671No data60-day trend chart654,636
Finland87,096No data60-day trend chart15,757914
Mozambique69,9175360-day trend chart2,325814
El Salvador69,198No data60-day trend chart10,6682,124
Luxembourg67,045No data60-day trend chart109,213794
Thailand67,0441,89160-day trend chart1,008224
Cameroon65,998No data60-day trend chart2,486991
Cyprus65,909No data60-day trend chart75,247312
Singapore61,1793460-day trend chart10,72630
Afghanistan59,74516960-day trend chart1,8542,625
Namibia48,654No data60-day trend chart19,787643
Côte d’Ivoire46,036No data60-day trend chart1,783286
Jamaica45,578No data60-day trend chart16,716778
Botswana43,994No data60-day trend chart18,810702
Uganda40,719No data60-day trend chart1,010334
Senegal40,344No data60-day trend chart2,4891,107
Zimbabwe38,2572260-day trend chart2,5241,567
Mongolia37,285No data60-day trend chart11,262115
Madagascar37,014No data60-day trend chart1,410643
Malawi34,0781660-day trend chart1,7811,148
Sudan33,104No data60-day trend chart7812,349
Malta30,3071560-day trend chart61,405415
Democratic Republic of the Congo29,904No data60-day trend chart334768
Australia29,8121160-day trend chart1,162910
Cuba29,529No data60-day trend chart2,634220
Maldives28,588No data60-day trend chart76,28071
Angola26,652No data60-day trend chart856596
Rwanda25,116No data60-day trend chart2,030335
Cape Verde23,882No data60-day trend chart43,384217
Gabon23,075No data60-day trend chart10,621139
Syria22,73310260-day trend chart1,2991,592
Guinea22,247No data60-day trend chart1,821144
Réunion20,381No data60-day trend chart23,700148
French Polynesia18,758No data60-day trend chart67,984141
Eswatini18,458No data60-day trend chart16,884671
Mauritania18,402No data60-day trend chart4,513455
French Guiana16,185No data60-day trend chart55,03877
Mali13,858No data60-day trend chart694484
Cambodia13,79038860-day trend chart90296
Tajikistan13,714No data60-day trend chart1,50391
Somalia13,670No data60-day trend chart860698
Burkina Faso13,310No data60-day trend chart638157
Guyana13,28317760-day trend chart16,969296
Andorra13,232No data60-day trend chart170,641125
Haiti13,094No data60-day trend chart1,131254
Togo12,967No data60-day trend chart1,720123
Belize12,668No data60-day trend chart31,012323
Curaçao12,1951460-day trend chart76,860109
Hong Kong11,783860-day trend chart1,571210
Djibouti11,121No data60-day trend chart10,313145
Papua New Guinea11,1194060-day trend chart1,244115
Trinidad and Tobago10,82432860-day trend chart7,936169
Lesotho10,731No data60-day trend chart5,346316
Republic of the Congo10,678No data60-day trend chart1,935144
Aruba10,6383060-day trend chart94,72199
Guadeloupe10,614No data60-day trend chart26,823168
South Sudan10,583No data60-day trend chart828115
The Bahamas10,453No data60-day trend chart27,127199
Suriname10,3637760-day trend chart17,825204
Mayotte8,231No data60-day trend chart30,44361
Benin7,821No data60-day trend chart66799
Equatorial Guinea7,694No data60-day trend chart5,665112
Martinique6,928No data60-day trend chart18,40247
Nicaragua6,898No data60-day trend chart1,068182
Iceland6,472660-day trend chart17,76829
Central African Republic6,359No data60-day trend chart1,15787
Yemen6,325No data60-day trend chart2121,229
Northern Cyprus6,282No data60-day trend chart19,27031
The Gambia5,898No data60-day trend chart2,512174
Seychelles5,87310360-day trend chart60,15928
Niger5,228No data60-day trend chart234191
San Marino5,066No data60-day trend chart150,89190
Chad4,817No data60-day trend chart297170
Saint Lucia4,552No data60-day trend chart25,47374
Gibraltar4,283No data60-day trend chart127,08894
Sierra Leone4,057160-day trend chart51379
Burundi4,018No data60-day trend chart3676
Barbados3,863No data60-day trend chart13,45944
Comoros3,838No data60-day trend chart4,393146
Guinea-Bissau3,726No data60-day trend chart2,32267
Eritrea3,671No data60-day trend chart1,05010
Jersey3,233No data60-day trend chart30,27252
Vietnam2,9421460-day trend chart3135
Liechtenstein2,936No data60-day trend chart75,77057
New Zealand2,613060-day trend chart52526
Monaco2,454No data60-day trend chart64,07332
Bermuda2,393No data60-day trend chart37,37528
Turks and Caicos Islands2,390260-day trend chart57,77317
São Tomé and Príncipe2,303No data60-day trend chart11,41335
Timor-Leste2,2766660-day trend chart1,6413
Sint Maarten2,230460-day trend chart54,90727
Liberia2,099No data60-day trend chart46985
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1,864No data60-day trend chart16,85211
Saint Martin1,602No data60-day trend chart44,81612
Isle of Man1,587No data60-day trend chart19,04829
Caribbean Netherlands1,558260-day trend chart59,95315
Antigua and Barbuda1,232No data60-day trend chart12,77332
Mauritius1,211No data60-day trend chart95717
Taiwan1,132760-day trend chart4812
Bhutan1,074860-day trend chart1,4481
Guernsey822No data60-day trend chartNo data14
Laos821No data60-day trend chart1150
Saint Barthélemy712No data60-day trend chartNo data1
Faroe Islands664No data60-day trend chart12,7391
Cayman Islands543No data60-day trend chart8,2512
Tanzania509No data60-day trend chart921
Åland Islands376No data60-day trend chart12,5820
Brunei224060-day trend chart5063
British Virgin Islands194No data60-day trend chart6,4601
Dominica174No data60-day trend chart2,4230
Grenada160No data60-day trend chart1,4291
New Caledonia124No data60-day trend chart4390
Fiji119260-day trend chart1342
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)63No data60-day trend chartNo data0
Anguilla58No data60-day trend chart3,9010
Macao49No data60-day trend chart720
Saint Kitts and Nevis45No data60-day trend chart8520
Greenland31No data60-day trend chart5530
Vatican City29No data60-day trend chartNo data0
Saint Pierre and Miquelon25No data60-day trend chartNo data0
Montserrat20No data60-day trend chartNo data1
Western Sahara10No data60-day trend chart171

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021

Posted by on 9:32 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.

Stories from the Veterans History Project: Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander American Veterans

Today there are more than 300,000 living Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander American veterans. The Library of Congress’ Veteran’s History Project honors those veterans who have shared their stories, veterans such as Kurt Chew-Een Lee, Jaden KimKenje OgataMaginia Sajise MoralesPeter Young and Veasna Rouen. The digital collection Asian Pacific Americans: Going for Broke highlights additional stories from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. (Library of Congress)

Left image credit: [Detail of] Kenje Ogata in uniform, Sterling, Illinois. 1943. (Library of Congress)

Right image credit: [Detail of] Jaden Kim in flight gear, beside a plane.

2021 Event Highlights


May 5

Homegrown: Samoan Studies Institute Students’ Association for Faasamoa
The Students’ Association for Faasamoa has been active in performing the Siva Samoa (traditional Samoan dance), and in teaching and practicing ancient Samoan customs. The dancers, under the direction of Molitogi Lemana, will be performing a 30-minute program of traditional dances.
This presentation will premiere on both Facebook  and YouTube . The presentation will be available for viewing afterwards at those sites and in the Library’s Event Videos collection.

(Library of Congress)

Online Event

May 5

CULINASIA: The Future of Asian Food in America: Saving Chinatown and Our Legacies
Join a panel of chefs, advocates, and activists who discuss the future of Chinatowns across the country. CULINASIA is a dynamic, free series of virtual conversations that explore food legacies and the ways in which Asian Diaspora cuisine continues to change and enrich our lives. Panel members’ experiences span the complex spectrum of Asian Diaspora identities in the U.S. as they discuss the successes, challenges, and future of Asian food in America.

Program on Zoom, Registration required 

(Smithsonian Institution)

Online Event

May 6

Jim Lee and Asian American Superheroes
This event celebrates the life work of DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee. He will appear in conversation with illustrator Bernard Chang (“Generations Forged”) and writers Sarah Kuhn (“Shadow of the Batgirl”) and Minh Lê (“Green Lantern: Legacy”). Moderated by former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang (“Superman Smashes the Klan”). This presentation will premiere on both Facebook  and YouTube .

(Library of Congress)

Online Event

May 19

CULINASIA: The Future of Asian Food in America:
Southeast Asia Got Something to Say

Hear from celebrity chefs and restaurateurs Jet Tila, Food Network star and chef partner in Pei Wei Restaurant Group, and Christina Hà, the first blind contestant of “MasterChef” and winner of its third season in 2012, and owner of The Blind Goat and Xin Chào in Houston. Then, follow along as Genevieve Villamora, co-owner of the award-winning restaurant Bad Saint and Vilailuck “Pepper” Teigen, author of the forthcoming The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Family Recipes from Everyone’s Favorite Thai Mom, demonstrate a recipe from the new cookbook.
Program on Zoom, Registration required 

(Smithsonian Institution)

Panel Discussion

May 20

Youth in Action: Ecological Knowledge in Pacific Coastal Communities
How can traditional knowledge inform responses to current environmental challenges? Join us in conversation with young Indigenous activists from across the Pacific who are using traditional ecological practices to combat threats to the ocean resources their communities have protected and thrived on for thousands of years. Moderated by Gabbi Lee (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi). Panelists include Franceska De Oro (Chamoru/Taotao Tåno Ginen Guåhan), Kammie Tavares (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi) and ‘Qátuw̓as (Gahtuwos) Brown (Haíɫzaqv [Heiltsuk] and Nuučaan̓uł [Nuu-chah-nulth]).

(National Museum of the American Indian)

Additional Events

Library of Congress Event Calendar

The National Archives Event Calendar

National Endowment of the Humanities Events Calendar

National Gallery of Art Events Calendar

National Park Service Event Calendar

Smithsonian Institution Event Calendar

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Public Events Calendar

What is the Sacred Ground Racial Justice curriculum?

Posted by on 9:23 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What is the Sacred Ground Racial Justice curriculum?

[Episcopal News Service] On April 27, thousands of Episcopalians gathered on Zoom to celebrate two years of the church’s Sacred Ground curriculum, a 10-part discussion series for small groups that traces the history of systemic racism in America, from its roots to its present realities.

“Gathering on Sacred Ground” was the first churchwide Sacred Ground event, hosted by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and members of his staff. It featured testimony from people who have participated in the series, as well as prayers, music and remarks from Curry. Noting the timeliness of Sacred Ground in the context of the past year’s reckoning on racial injustice in America, Curry thanked everyone who developed and implemented the series for being part of a momentous movement.

“The ground beneath us is shifting,” Curry said. “Something important is happening among us. And the last time somebody was on sacred ground, I think his name was Moses. And when God got finished with him, he set some Hebrew slaves free. When God gets finished with us, Episcopal Church, he’s gonna set some captives free, including us.”

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, painted a picture of how widely Sacred Ground has spread across the church since its introduction in 2019. A total of 1,712 circles (or small groups) have registered for the series across 92 dioceses, she said, meaning as many as 13,000 people have participated.

About 3,150 people joined the Zoom gathering on April 27. Among them were Episcopalians from across the church who had been invited to share reflections on their experience with the curriculum, which is built around a series of documentary films and readings that focus on race relations in America. Through prayers, poems and personal testimonies, they demonstrated the diversity of the Sacred Ground experience.

Dan Ries from Old Donation Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, said Sacred Ground helped his 384-year-old parish reckon with its own history of white supremacy through action.

“As part of our journey of repentance and reparation for the sin of slavery,” Ries said, “Old Donation has established a scholarship at Norfolk State University, an HBCU [historically Black college or university], in honor of a woman named Rachel enslaved by our parish, to help one student receive an education that many of us take for granted.”

Ries added that “this is only the start of our journey,” saying that about 50 people have already participated in Sacred Ground through the parish and they hope to bring that number into the hundreds as they continue with new circles.

Alida Garcia, program director for the Diocese of West Texas’ Camp Capers, said the experience was valuable on a personal level and an institutional level.

“It enabled me to examine how I, a Latinx person, contribute to racial injustice,” Garcia said, adding that many people of Latin American descent have experienced “forced racial categorization as white and the pressure to assimilate to white culture.

“It has also shown me that to fight racism, we must create more inclusive and equitable programs for the youth and families we serve at our camps and conference centers.”

Garcia, who also serves on the board of Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers, said that ECCC has operated six circles with 45 people, and at least five of those participants are now leading Sacred Ground circles in their own communities.

Garcia encouraged more camp and conference center staff to participate and shared that ECCC is working with Katrina Browne, who developed Sacred Ground, to create youth versions of the curriculum, some of which are already being used by youth groups.

Browne shared updates on the continuing development of the Sacred Ground program. Thanks to a donation from Caroline Russell in Brunswick, Maine, the licensing for the Sacred Ground materials, which was set to expire at the end of this year, has been renewed for another three years, she said. The Episcopal Church is also negotiating with the rights-holders to allow other faith groups to host Sacred Ground on their own. Currently, Sacred Ground must be run through an Episcopal parish or other entity.

Phoebe Chatfield, associate for creation care and justice in the presiding bishop’s office, said a new webpage specifically for Sacred Ground facilitators is in the works, as well as a Facebook group for facilitators to share advice and experiences. A support circle for facilitators of color is also under consideration, she said.

Spellers directed those who have finished the program and want to continue the work in their communities to “Becoming Beloved Community Where You Are,” a resource guide that contains ideas for further truth-telling and action on racial justice, as well as the church’s “From Many, One” initiative on conversations across difference.

Curry praised Sacred Ground as a transformative experience that echoes the Way of Love practice of “turning” – away from injustice and toward love.

“Face the truths,” he said. “Learn from them. Don’t wallow in them, but learn from them. That’s what Sacred Ground does – it just helps us to face those truths, learn from them, and then turn.”

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.

Thank You, LORD, for Bishop Joseph Jon Bruno

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[Diocese of Los Angeles] The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, former bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, died suddenly of natural causes at his home in La Quinta, California, on April 23.

In making the announcement together with the other members of the Bruno family, his wife, Mary A. Bruno, released the following statement:

“Our family and the many others who knew and loved Jon have been blessed with his magnificent life. We are gladdened to know that he has been greeted by St. Peter and is in the loving hands of God. We ask that our family is included in your prayers and our privacy respected in this time of grief.”

Bruno is survived by Mary, his wife of 35 years; his daughter, Jonelle; his son, Philip, and his wife, Mary; stepson Brent Woodrich and his wife, Andrea; nine grandchildren and countless friends.

Services and other arrangements are pending. More information, including a full obituary in the diocese’s Episcopal News, is here.

Bruno was known for his commitment to multicultural and polylingual ministry, his advocacy for inclusion and equity for all people regardless of orientation and identification and the visionary Seeds of Hope ministry he co-founded, which has helped bear tens of thousands of people through the pandemic with its food and education programs. He chose for his episcopate the theme “Hands in Healing” as a means of inspiring others to mend effects of violence, discrimination, and loss.

Bruno was born Nov. 17, 1946, in Los Angeles and grew up in the Echo Park and Maravilla sections of the city. He graduated from East L.A.’s Garfield High School, Cal State L.A., and the Virginia Theological Seminary, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2001. He held a certificate in criminology from Cal State Long Beach and served as a police officer in Burbank, California. Raised a Roman Catholic, he entered The Episcopal Church through the parish of Epiphany, Lincoln Heights, during his youth.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Robert C. Rusack in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 1978, and served churches in Thousand Oaks, California, and Oregon before beginning ministry as rector of St. Athanasius Church in Echo Park in 1986. There he conceived of the idea to build, on that site, the Cathedral Center of St. Paul and was installed as its first provost in 1994 by Bishop Frederick H. Borsch, whom he succeeded in 2002 as sixth bishop of Los Angeles, having been elected bishop coadjutor in 1999.

Timeline to put roofs over Skid Row’s homeless

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[Pasadena Star News] U.S. District Judge David Carter, who presides over a labyrinthine case in which plaintiffs argue that public officials have not done enough to address Los Angeles’s homelessness crisis, ordered up the urgent timeline, arguing in a 110-page order that “for decades in Los Angeles, the desperation of its citizens has been met with a yawn.”

A federal judge has set out a whirlwind schedule for the city and county of Los Angeles, issuing an order Tuesday, April 20, demanding that the Skid Row’s homeless be housed or sheltered by October.

U.S. District Judge David Carter, who presides over a labyrinthine case in which plaintiffs argue that public officials have not done enough to address Los Angeles’s homelessness crisis, ordered up the urgent timeline, arguing in a 110-page order that “for decades in Los Angeles, the desperation of its citizens has been met with a yawn.”

“All of the rhetoric, promises, plans, and budgeting cannot obscure the shameful reality of this crisis — that year after year, there are more homeless Angelenos, and year after year, more homeless Angelenos die on the streets,” Carter wrote.

Under the order, the City and County must offer and if accepted provide shelter or housing to all unhoused women and children by July 19. Then, city and county officials would need to do the same for all families by Aug. 18. All others who are unhoused would need to be offered and be provided housing if accepted by Oct. 18.

As a counterpart to all this, the county would need to, within 90 days, offer and — if accepted — provide services and placement into housing and shelter that is administered by the Department of Mental Health or Department of Public Health.

The order has led to some, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, balking at the pace. He declined to say if the city would appeal, but pointed to provisions in the order that could become “roadblocks” against ongoing efforts to address homelessness.

“That would be an unprecedented pace, not just for Los Angeles but any place that we might see homelessness in America,” Garcetti told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

The groundbreaking 110-page order comes in response to a request for immediate court intervention submitted last week by the plaintiffs in a year-old federal lawsuit seeking to compel the city and county to quickly and effectively deal with the homelessness crisis. Carter’s housing order rejects city and county arguments that federal court intervention would improperly usurp the role of local government and upend longstanding programs already dealing with the crisis.

The motion was filed by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a coalition of downtown business owners and residents that originally brought the lawsuit in March 2020. City and county attorneys strongly objected, arguing in court papers that the L.A. Alliance’s “extraordinary” attempt to invoke the power of the court is “overbroad and unmanageable,” lacks legal standing and would “improperly usurp the role of local government and its elected officials.”

Pete White, of LACAN, an organization that advocates for people who are low-income and homeless, said he feared  that the order could lead to people getting sheltered, but not housed, and may lead to enforcement against people who aren’t being housed. The group he represents has been intervening in the case.

“Over the past year, we have grown increasingly concerned about the ways in which the city has used this litigation to justify investment in emergency shelters instead of housing, because shelters won’t solve our housing crisis, and they certainly won’t do anything to address the structural racism that got us here in the first place,” he said.

He added that he hoped the city would take the “sweeping words” in Carter’s order, which pointed to the historical roots of the disproportionately large number of people of color who are homeless, “as a call to action to dismantle those racist systems and focus on solutions that give our communities a path to real housing, instead of doubling down and investing in emergency shelters and criminalization.”

In colorful language that takes in the Civil War and the Bruce’s Beach case of forced displacement of Black residents in Manhattan Beach, Carter traced the start of the crisis downtown to the 1920s, when the city created the Municipal Service Bureau for Homeless Men in Skid Row to assist men by connecting them with philanthropic organizations that provided food and lodging.

For the plaintiffs in the case, the order was a promising development. Daniel Conway, a spokesman for the LA Alliance for Human Rights, said that the order could be “transformational.”

He added that while there may be some parts of the order that may not ultimately be feasible, and may need amendment, it ultimately “read like a vote of no-confidence” about public officials progress on the issue of homelessness.

Public officials were also ordered to do the following:

  • Cease the sale of more than 14,000 city properties, until the city controller has made a report to the court about them.
  • Set aside $1 billion — just announced a day before, by Mayor Eric Garcetti for his proposed budget — into escrow within 7 days. The $1 billion is only a proposed amount for a budget that is just starting to be discussed for the upcoming year, starting July 1. It was unclear whether the money is technically available to be moved into escrow within the week.
  • Perform an audit within 90 days of funds the city and county has received for addressing homelessness.
  • Perform an audit within 30 days on county funds put toward addressing mental health substance use disorder treatment.


Fighting racism inside and outside Church

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[Anglican Communion News Service] Churches around the Anglican Communion are deeply involved in the fight against racism, both within the structures of the church itself and in wider society. The year 2020 was marked by an increase in support for the Black Lives Matter movement, following the death of George Floyd, an African American, at the hands of police officers in the United States. Many churches released statements in response to the tragedy, affirming a commitment to racial reconciliation. COVID-19 has also disproportionately impacted minority groups. Churches around the world have been doing what they can in the fight against racism.

Read the entire article here.

Presiding Bishop calls verdicts in George Floyd’s death steps in ‘long walk’ to justice

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[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached an impassioned and at times personal sermon during an April 20 virtual Compline service organized by the Episcopal Church in Minnesota and held hours after a jury convicted a former police officer in the killing of George Floyd.

“You have been faithful through this journey, and many of you have marched and virtually all of you have prayed and you have stayed the course,” Curry said, as he thanked Minnesota Bishop Craig Loya for his leadership on behalf of The Episcopal Church and thanked Episcopalians in Minnesota for their dedication to the cause of justice. “There is work yet to be done,” he added.

Curry, Loya and Episcopal leaders from across the church responded to the guilty verdicts with calls for prayer, justice and healing. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed on May 25, 2020, by a white officer, Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes outside a Minneapolis grocery store. Chauvin and three other officers were fired, and on April 20, Chauvin was found guilty on three charges of murder and manslaughter. He will be sentenced in eight weeks.

Curry spoke for 16 minutes from his home in North Carolina, during the evening service that was livestreamed on the Episcopal Church in Minnesota’s Facebook page. He invoked a passage at the end of Isaiah 40 that reassures God’s followers that they “shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

“It is the long walk that can make you faint, because it’s long,” Curry said, drawing an analogy to the fight against inequality and racial injustice. “It’s not quick success. … The struggle continues, but we know now the victory can be won.”

Chauvin’s conviction marked the first time in Minnesota that an on-duty white officer had been found guilty of killing a Black man; a guilty verdict in a trial against a police officer is a rare. Police in the United States shoot and kill about 1,000 people each year, and in most of those cases, suspects are armed and officers’ actions are deemed justified, according to the Washington Post. The few instances of convictions against officers often are on lesser charges.

Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in a case based largely on a bystander’s cellphone video, submitted as evidence. Curry pointed to that video as a deciding factor, while lamenting that African Americans throughout the country’s history have faced the threat of violence by police, long before there was video evidence.

“For all the years of my life that I can remember, I have been taught to be wary of the police,” he said. As a Black teenager, he learned from adults that he shouldn’t talk back to officers, “don’t provoke them.”

“I’ve heard that all my life, and I’m aware you get conditioned by the repetition of that kind of thing,” he said. “What happened to George Floyd has been happening [for years]. The difference was there were no cameras. It was just the Black community crying, Indigenous communities crying, brown communities crying, Asian communities crying.”

Even during Chauvin’s trial, Curry said, he couldn’t “give in to the hope” for justice until the verdicts finally were read in court. “Today, if but for one moment, love won. And today, if but for one moment, George Floyd won.”

But the work of the church and followers of Jesus doesn’t end there, he said.

“We must continue until no human child of God is treated less than a child of God, until everybody is treated as God’s somebody, until this world and our communities are beloved communities, where there’s plenty good room for all of God’s children,” he said. “This is our work. This is our task. This is our struggle.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

We have a moral obligation to address gun violence

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[form https://bishopsagainstgunviolence.org/]

Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a network of nearly 100 Episcopal Church bishops, urges our cities, states and nation to adopt policies and pass legislation that will reduce the number of people in the United States killed and wounded by gunfire.


Statement on the Atlanta Spa Shootings

On Tuesday, another white man who should not have had a gun shot and killed seven women and one
man at massage spas in the Atlanta area. Six of his victims, all women, were of Asian descent. The
gunman had been a patron of at least two of the spas where the massacre took place;… 


A Letter from Bishops
United to President Biden
and Vice President Harris

On February 22, Bishops United Against Gun Violence sent the following letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris, offering thanks for their support of sensible gun reforms and pledging to support their leadership on this issue. A copy of this letter was also sent to all members of Congress.


Episcopal Church Events in April

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[Episcopal News Service] For the second year in a row, the liturgical journey of Holy Week is happening under the cloud of a pandemic. But this year is a little different. While last year’s Holy Week and Easter services were almost entirely online, many congregations are offering some form of in-person worship this year.

With diocesan guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions varying widely, Episcopal churches are taking a variety of approaches. Having services outdoors, weather permitting, is one option churches have taken throughout the pandemic. The traditional Lenten practice of the Stations of the Cross also has been easily moved outdoors by many churches.

The Church of the Holy Nativity in Weymouth, Massachusetts, began Holy Week by inviting parishioners to its outdoor Palm Sunday service. “God willing and weather cooperating,” they were invited to celebrate the Eucharist on the church lawn. “Please arrive with [a] mask and your own folding chair,” parishioners were advised.

Holy Nativity is also one of a growing number of churches that have resumed in-person worship, albeit with protocols in place to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus transmission. While Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services will be held on Zoom, the church will have three Eucharist services in the church on Easter Sunday. With the number of indoor occupants limited to facilitate social distancing, parishioners must reserve seats online. At those services, the church will offer Communion and some familiar Easter hymns “for a few [choir members] to sing and the rest to hum joyfully together.”

The Maundy Thursday service, which traditionally includes a foot-washing ritual that commemorates Jesus’ actions on the night before his crucifixion, is a little trickier to host in person. At St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, the Maundy Thursday Eucharist will be celebrated via a prerecorded video, and parishioners may come to the church afterward to receive the consecrated bread and pray in the pews. The traditional stripping and washing of the altar will also be done on video.

Many churches are taking the hybrid approach and offering a mix of in-person and online services. At St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio, Easter Sunday services will be held via Zoom, with the option to come to the church and receive the Eucharist afterward. But the Easter Vigil service will be held in person – reservations required – and will not be livestreamed. The service will begin in the church courtyard and move into the building about halfway through.

This Easter comes after a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic and its toll on physical and mental health; widespread economic hardship; and the societal crises of police brutality, racism and a violent insurrection. The widening availability of COVID-19 vaccines has offered some hope that the nation will return to a semblance of normality by this summer, but infection rates indicate the pandemic is far from over. Reported coronavirus cases in the United States have risen 13% over the past week, and deaths have risen 9%.

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